Use Value (and Aesthetics)

Philip Goldstein pgold at strauss.udel.edu
Tue Mar 28 05:55:22 MST 1995


	On the issue of whether or not movies are reproducible, Steve
Keene writes "More than one copy of a movie is made for distribution,
granted; but
to "make" a movie, say _Forest Gump_, the formula goes: take one
novel, add one Tom Hanks... In other words, reproducing the movie is
(a) impossible and (b) pointless. Whereas with a true(r) commodity,
making more than one copy is both (a) possible and (b) the whole
point--to make lots and sell lots."
	I can't comment on all the economic issues, but, as to whether or
not you can turn a movie into a reproducible formulae, there is a whole
school of cultural criticism which takes popular movies like, say, Hank's
"Forrest Gump" and treats them as paradigms establishing a genre. The
seminal essay here is Adorno and Horheimer's "The Culture Industry,"
which complains that the industry denies creativity and reduces art to
formulaic reproduction. Walter Benjamin also has a famous essay which
explains that mechanical reproducibility destroyed the aura of uniqueness
which traditionally distinguished great art and reduced art to democratic
accessibility.

	On the relationship of art and consumption, the classic essay
denying that art is reducible to consumption is Kant's Critique of
Aesthetics, which was given Marxist import by Lucien Goldmann and, to an
extent, Georg Lukacs, among others. On the positive side, critics
construe consumption as reader or audience response. Tony Bennett, the
British Marxist, has given this position a strong Marxist defense,
attacking Kant and his Marxist elaborators. In the recent Cultural
Capital, John Guillory has attacked reader-oriented approaches, including
Bennetts, on the grounds that "Marxist" grounds that production matters
more than consumption.

Philip Goldstein



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